NASA Spinoff

Sensors Locate Radio Interference

Dwayne Free, senior systems engineer at Soneticom, says that one of the applications of the LLS system will be keeping runway (and launch) operations free from radio frequency interference. Because uninterrupted communication between crews in the tower (or mission control) and in the cockpit is critical to safety, the threat mitigation system could secure communications before flight, while a vehicle waits for takeoff.

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NASA and the FAA are not the only government agencies interested in locating (and preventing) security threats from radio interference. Other agencies and security firms that need to monitor anomalous RF emissions have purchased Soneticom’s LLS. The company has had a number of sales to private customers, all interested in preventing electronic encroachment, and although some frequencies differ between industries and organizations, the technology and processes are the same. Soneticom hopes to add the U.S. Air Force to its list of customers, seeing an easy transfer of the LLS to the Air Force’s launch needs at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base. Another potential customer is the Federal Communications Commission, which could use the LLS to enforce radio frequency licenses.

Plans for the LLS and Soneticom’s related RI/TDOA services include adapting the technology into smaller tracking devices, both for objects and for people, in an approach called cooperative tracking. An RI/TDOA personnel tracking device could track individuals in high-security or high-risk locations; astronauts, military personnel, firefighters, miners, and other individuals at risk could wear small beacons that would track their locations for their safety, and could also identify individuals without proper access. Security personnel and military forces approaching an area of operations could use RF tracking to secure an area from physical intrusion, not just radio interference. The system could also monitor and secure radio traffic during demolition explosions at construction sites. In 2009, Soneticom hopes to complete an enhanced mapping product, the EMI Image, which will be compatible with the LLS and has been developed with NASA SBIR funding.

Parsippany, New Jersey’s DRS Technologies, a supplier of integrated products to military forces and intelligence agencies, announced with Soneticom in May that DRS has agreed to acquire the Florida company.